“Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.” – Chuang Tzu
Sometimes the only thing you can do is to just stop searching. Making it look like you’re after the feeling is not the same as actually having the feeling.
I was at a point in my life where everything looked great from the outside. I had just graduated college with Honors and two Degrees; I had my own apartment that I could afford; I got a new job plus multiple freelance opportunities.
But still… something was missing.
It can be frustrating when we know we should be happy and yet… something just isn’t right. Just because I look cool and collected on the outside does not mean I feel that way on the inside.
I knew I had my issues. I had my issues around eating, around my body image, and my tendency to isolate myself from others. The more I isolated myself, the more I lived inside my head, and the more I beat myself up over the fact that I’m “making up problems that shouldn’t actually be there.”
But that feeling is real.
The feeling that something isn’t quite right is real.
A huge chunk of my life was missing.
I realized I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t an easy realization to make. It isn’t something we want to admit to ourselves. It sounds so grim. “I’m not happy” – it sounds so final and depressing. I wasn’t depressed but that statement just sounded so… sad.
So I decided to go on a quest to become happier. I read books, articles, and blogs about the topic. I watched documentaries. I put more and more on my plate, thinking that all of these “happiness resources” have got to help me become a happier person.
I had the resources right there in front of me. But still… I wasn’t happy.
That’s when I realized something.
Just because I have the resources…
Just because I have the information right there in front of me…
It doesn’t mean that I’m actually taking action inside of myself to change.
We do this with many issues. We drown ourselves in resources with the hopes of finding not just one solution, but finding multiple. We want to try them all – and many times, WE DO.
Or so we think… but that’s why it doesn’t work. Piling these things on just doesn’t work. That’s not how change happens. Reading book after book and educating myself on happiness without any real action will not make me a happier person. It will simply make me a person who’s more educated on happiness. But not necessarily happier.
So I decided to stop.
I decided to stop searching for happiness and focus on FEELING happiness.
I remembered certain things that were reiterated from the articles and so I created simple action steps for myself that would allow me to focus more on MYSELF rather than continuing this quest.
I stopped searching for happiness because I wanted happiness to find me.
Better yet, I wanted to find joy.
I left behind my anxieties about finding the solution (although it wasn’t easy) and I began to just LIVE. I began to learn myself all over again. What is it that makes me happy? What is it that brings me joy? What sensations and activities bring me pleasure?
We have evolved into a society that shames pleasure even though it is the very core of our existence. We crave pleasure and we deserve to feel pleasure. We were made to feel pleasure. That’s why it exists.
That’s when the change happened.
I left behind what I felt I ought to do and started doing what my body and mind wanted to do.
I call this practice “sensual living” because it requires you to be more sensual in your daily life – to be more mindful of what you’re doing; to take time for yourself; to notice and take in your surroundings with all your senses. The very act of living a more mindful life can be transformational on your quality of life.
I believe that turning to mindfulness can really help us learn what we really need to do in order to feel that inner joy and peace we so desire. Once you stop and blatantly ask yourself “what do I really WANT?” the answer might surprise you.
It’s important to live accordingly with what your body and mind are telling you. Your body never wants to do you harm. So why not just surrender to its well wishes?
You’ll be surprised what you’ll find out about yourself in the process and how much happier you’ll feel in return.
Photo by Patty